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Citroen announces second WRC team

Citroen Sport has announced that it will run a second team in the 2009 World Rally Championship.

Registered for the Manufacturer Team (or M2) category, the Citroen Junior Team will run up to four Citroen C4 WRCs on rallies in 2009.

Citroen says that its Junior Team is further evidence of the brand's commitment to the WRC.

The full list of drivers, and the events they will each contest, is yet to be finalised but Citroen Sport Director Olivier Quesnel confirmed the fundamental details today.

"We are absolutely thrilled to be able to confirm the Citroen Junior Team as an M2 entry in the 2009 World Rally Championship," he said. "As required by the regulations, the Citroen Junior Team will contest at least eight events in order to qualify for Manufacturers' points. Conrad Rautenbach, Evgeny Novikov and Sebastien Ogier will form the mainstay of the line-up, while Chris Atkinson is due to take part in the first round of the New Year, the Rally Ireland."

Rautenbach will contest every round of the 2009 championship and will be joined on at least eight of those 12 rounds by the young Russian Evgeny Novikov. The programme of the Junior World Champion Sebastien Ogier currently includes six events. At this stage Australia's Chris Atkinson is only confirmed for Rally Ireland, but the indications are he will do more events later in the year. “It is our belief that our association with Chris will not stop there," said Citroen Sport Technologies Manager Benoit Nogier.

"It is no coincidence that we have chosen to employ the word 'Junior' in the team's official name," explained Nogier. "It is an M2 team which will predominantly run drivers who are currently learning the sport, and their average age will be 22.

“Our aims are to develop the commercial side which we began in 2008 and also enable our crews to benefit from our expertise. The programme will allow them to gain valuable extra experience which will put them in good stead for the next step of their career,” he added.

The set-up of the operation will be the same as that which ran Urmo Aava and Conrad Rautenbach in 2008 and will continue to feature the Citroen C4 WRC. On events, Citroen Sport Technologies will be based close to Citroen Sport's facilities and will be able to benefit from the factory team’s know-how.